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La Fortaleza (Palacio de Santa Catalina) Tours

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La Fortaleza (Palacio de Santa Catalina)
The blue-and-white Santa Catalina Palace (Palacio de Santa Catalina), otherwise known as La Fortaleza, is the official residence of the governor of Puerto Rico. Situated in Old San Juan, the UNESCO World Heritage Site occupies a spot that was long one of the most contested strategic positions in the Caribbean.

The Basics
La Fortaleza was built between 1533 and 1540, and it’s an impressive sight to behold from the approach through Calle Fortaleza, a narrow street. The historic structure is the oldest executive mansion in the Western Hemisphere, and one can still see stone fortifications erected by the Spanish. 

Although travelers aren't permitted roam the governor’s mansion at will, guided walking tours (held on weekdays) cover the lush gardens and will venture inside the building when the government is not in session. Walking tours or Segway tours of Old San Juan often make stops at the governor's residence, as well as other important Old San Juan sites and government buildings in the San Juan National Historic Site.

Things to Know Before You Go
  • Since La Fortaleza is a functioning government building, it’s subject to closures without warning; additionally, interior tours aren’t available while government is in session.
  • The gardens surrounding the palace are a great place for kids to burn off some energy.
  • Like many buildings constructed centuries ago, La Fortaleza is not fully handicap accessible. 
How to Get There
La Fortaleza, located in the heart of Old San Juan, is walkable from most other destinations in downtown. Several local bus lines stop at the Terminal Covadonga San Juan, which is an easy walk to La Fortaleza.

When to Get There
The Palacio de Santa Catalina is open from 9am to 4pm on weekdays for guided tours. Puerto Rico has a mild climate year around; hurricane season runs from June through November. The weather in April through June is considered the best—it’s warm but not too hot or rainy. 

The San Juan National Historic Site
La Fortaleza is part of the San Juan National Historic Site, which includes other landmarks such as the San Juan Gate, the Castillo de San Cristobal, the city walls (La Muralla), and the Paseo del Morro. All of these sites are situated within easy walking distance of the governor’s mansion.
Address: Calle de la Cruz, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Admission: Varies
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11 Tours & Activities to Experience

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Walking Tours

Old San Juan Walking Tour

Explore the colorful buildings and charming streets of Old San Juan in a small group with the help of writer David Rodriguez, author of ‘The Rise and Fall of the Great Barbate.’ During the course of your day, this knowledgeable author will help you discover the area’s key historic sites and gain new insight into Puerto Rican culture. It’s a great opportunity to learn about the many stories of the people that helped to define this unique neighborhood. Your walking trip’s length is flexible based on your needs, and also includes bottled water.
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  • 2 hours
  • Free Cancellation
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US$40.00
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US$40.00
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  • 2 hours
  • Free Cancellation

Cultural Tours

Small Group Tour to Old San Juan and Bacardi Factory

Tour the colorful streets and winding alleys of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Old San Juan, the second-oldest city in America. This guided small-group tour, capped at 11 participants, ensures a comfortable and personalized introduction to the city's major attractions and historical areas. Continue your tour at the Bacardi Rum Factory, an integral San Juan icon, before concluding with hotel drop-off at your accommodation.
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  • 5 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From  
US$85.00
From  
US$85.00
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  • 5 hours
  • Free Cancellation

Segway Tours

Old San Juan Segway Tour

Experience the old and the new in the atmospheric neighborhood of Old San Juan on this 2-hour small-group tour by Segway. Effortlessly zoom around the 500-year-old colonial architecture of this ancient neighborhood as you visit 25 of the top attractions in the area, and learn about its evolution from Spanish colony to US territory. This intimate sightseeing tour is limited to just 8 participants and also includes all entrance fees, a helmet, secure storage, filtered water and sunscreen.Please note the weight restrictions on this tour, located in the 'additional information section'.
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  • 2 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From  
US$103.69
From  
US$103.69
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  • 2 hours
  • Free Cancellation

Sunset Cruises

Old San Juan Sunset Sail

Float past hundreds of years of history and picturesque scenery during this 2-hour sunset sailing excursion in Old San Juan Harbor. Climb aboard the "Amazing Grace," a topsail schooner fashioned in the style of 19th-century American sailing vessels, for an unforgettable ride past the wonders of this historic area. As you sail you’ll enjoy up-close views of Old San Juan sights like El Morro fortress, La Fortaleza, Paseo la Princesa and more, all set aglow by the fading late afternoon light. A guide and complimentary beverages and snacks are all covered.
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  • 2 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From  
US$95.00
From  
US$95.00
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  • 2 hours
  • Free Cancellation

Sailing Trips

Old San Juan Harbor Sail

Float past more than 500 years of history and picturesque scenery during this 1.5-hour sailing excursion in Old San Juan Harbor. Climb aboard the ‘Amazing Grace,’ a topsail schooner fashioned in the style of 19th-century American sailing vessels, for an unforgettable ride past the wonders of this historic area. As you sail you’ll enjoy up-close views of Old San Juan sights such as El Morro fortress, La Fortaleza, and Paseo la Princesa. A guide and complimentary beverages and snacks are all covered.
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  • 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
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US$59.00
From  
US$59.00
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  • 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation

Ports of Call Tours

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Old San Juan Bay Tours

Learn about our history and culture. Enjoy the best view of the bay. Take amazing photos while listening to our folkloric music. Our guides will make sure you have an unique experience.
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  • 1 hour
  • Free Cancellation
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US$44.50
From  
US$44.50
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  • 1 hour
  • Free Cancellation

Half-day Tours

Private Old San Juan Walking Tour

Wander the charming colonial facades, ancient forts and cobblestoned streets of Old San Juan during this 4-hour walking tour with a private guide. Feel like a local as you get a personalized introduction to the history of the area with this certified professional guide, exploring its wealth of forts, plazas, churches, museums, cafes and local wildlife. You’ll help choose the day’s itinerary and take breaks whenever and wherever you like. It’s more like a stroll with a friend than a formal tour. Your private walking excursion also includes entrance fees for the forts.
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From  
US$148.00
From  
US$148.00
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation

Cultural Tours

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Scenic Walking Tour in the Historic Old San Juan

This tour is a great opportunity to learn the past and present of Old San Juan from a local guide. It is perfect for people who want to go beyond the pictures and learn what is the story behind the gorgeous architecture and the colonial history of Puerto Rico. This tour is an experience that transforms the perspective that most people have of Old San Juan.
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  • 2 hours 30 minutes
From  
US$20.00
US$25.00
US$5.00 savings
From  
US$20.00
US$25.00
US$5.00 savings
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  • 2 hours 30 minutes

Walking Tours

Unique Walking Tour through Old San Juan

Discover the historic delights of Old San Juan as you pound its ancient cobblestones on a 5-hour walking tour. Take a comprehensive look at the wealth of colonial landmarks in this former Spanish colony, visiting ‘La Fortaleza’ (Governor’s House), the imposing San Felipe El Morro Fort, 16th-century San Jose Church, the Ballaja Barracks and much more. As you stroll, your expert guide provides additional insight into the design and famous personalities that once inhabited this charming area.
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  • 4 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From  
US$65.00
From  
US$65.00
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  • 4 hours
  • Free Cancellation

Day Cruises

Narrated Sunset Boat Tour of San Juan

Complete your day with a narrated sunset cruise around Old San Juan. Learn about the area's early colonial history as you sail past its key attractions, such as the Governors Mansion and Paseo de la Princesa, against the backdrop of the sunset.
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  • 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
From  
US$52.00
From  
US$52.00
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  • 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation

Cultural Tours

NEW TO VIATOR

Explore Hidden Secrets of Old San Juan

We will start by making a stop at the San Felipe del Morro Fortress and explore all the history behind (1539), then take a walk thru the cobblestone streets of the Old San Juan and explore some hidden secrets in the San Juan Cathedral (1540) , San Juan Gate (1634) , and lastly making a stop at the Capitol Bulding to explore some of its rich history.
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  • 2 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From  
US$25.00
From  
US$25.00
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  • 2 hours
  • Free Cancellation


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